HIV is primarily a sexually transmitted
disease but can be contracted in three ways.
All require the exchange of bodily fluids, such as semen, blood, breast
milk, or vaginal secretion.
The majority of HIV cases are acquired
through unprotected sexual encounters.
The sexual secretion of an infected person can come into contact with
the genital, oral, or rectal mucous membrane of another and affect the
uninfected partner. Both heterosexual
and homosexual encounters can cause infection, with higher risk to the
receptive partner. Anal intercourse has a higher risk of transmitting HIV than vaginal
The most common cases of blood transmission
of the disease occur primarily amongst intravenous drug users, hemophiliacs,
and recipients of blood transfusion.
Sharing or reusing syringes contaminated with infected blood poses a
great risk for contracting the virus. Receiving
tattoos with infected needles can also expose participants to the virus. In regions with substandard medical hygiene,
the risk of acquiring HIV through blood is much higher than in more sterile
The transmission of the disease from mother
to child can happen at any point during the childbearing process. It can occur to the fetus in-utero, through
an exchange of bodily fluids through the umbilical chord. It can also occur during childbirth, through
the exchange of bodily fluids. This can
be largely avoided through birth by caesarean section, so fluids are kept
separate. Lastly, transmission can occur
during breast-feeding as the child consumes the infected mother’s breast